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Data link: connecting with cross-channel consumers

31st Jan 2017
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The proliferation of data, and the variety of channels from which it comes, present a growing challenge in consistently identifying individuals across channels. How do organisations establish and track this identity?

A key characteristic of Big Data is that it comes from numerous different silos and channels, both offline and online. In pre-digital days, when we only had consumer data records that related to a physical consumer address or postcode, it was simpler to bring separate data elements about the same consumer together.

Today, however, linking data which an individual generates across their offline and online journey is challenging. The proliferation of channels has had a profound effect on the range and volume of data available, as well as hampering the ability of organisations to connect with their customers. There are arguably more opportunities for engagement, but meaningful connection and consistent personalised experiences have become far more difficult, and the challenge is only growing.

Link for success

‘Linkage’ is growing to become a fundamental idea. This concept involves identifying users by their device or internet connection, and linking together their identities across each interaction in order to create a single view of the customer and understand how to engage with them across a variety of channels, both digital and ‘traditional’.

This enables us to derive a holistic view across multiple data sources and, importantly, to enrich customer records with additional data. As customer engagement activity shifts to the digital realm, and digital channels continue to grow and diversify, linkage data will become a highly valued asset.

The 360 Single Customer View

In a digital world, a truly unified, cross-channel view of customers is something that no modern business can do without, although many still struggle to achieve it. As people move from social networks to websites, physical stores, and traditional media, they expect brands to keep up. They need to be treated consistently, regardless of the channel they’re using, and the challenge is for businesses to really understand what they want and who they are at all stages of the customer journey.

This has various implications for businesses, but fundamentally it means that businesses must be able to recognise a specific customer, wherever they are and no matter what device they’re using. A single customer view means achieving a deeper understanding of a consumer’s life, throughout their customer journey, and regardless of where they are interacting and transacting. Harnessing the power of data is the key to achieving this.

From there, they must then be able to adapt their marketing materials to factor in previous encounters and preferences, ensuring that the customer’s experience is seamless and tailored. And all of this must be done flexibly and at scale.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, 81% of businesses still report challenges in achieving a single customer view. It seems that technology is the main obstacle to achieving this, from the need to work in real-time, to using data from multiple sources, and accessing data that sits elsewhere within the business. This represents everything from storage, through data blending, to accessibility and short and long-term storage.

Looking at the business as a whole, linkage and the single customer view will address a growing market need across all sectors, and all business divisions. Change won’t be rapid but it will come, and when it does then it will completely transform the relationship between business and customer.

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